Matt Ricketson, BC ’13, was a computer science major—“a computer science geek”—before he heard the words ‘startup’ or ‘entrepreneurship’ at Boston College. At a panel discussion Thursday night, Ricketson told the crowd not to miss the opportunities they see.
The Shea Center for Entrepreneurship began its first year with a panel of four alumni who discussed startups, ventures, and the lessons they learned after graduating Boston College.
Each of the panelists highlighted the fact that their majors did not necessarily lead them on a straight path to a job in their respective fields.
“Sometimes you might not see the journey ahead of you exactly as it will be,” said Adejire Bademosi, BC ’14, an international studies major who now holds the position of public policy and outreach at Twitter.
Bademosi was working at the state department and at a non-profit when she found herself at a conference in Munich, talking to a director of Twitter. She became friendly with the director and was soon after offered a job there. She was surprised and flattered, she said, and took the job immediately.
James Loftus, BC ’00, was a political science major who went to law school, and then worked as a lawyer for five years in New York City.
Loftus was launched into the business world after an opportunity became available to work at Google.
He then spent three years at Yahoo as a lead corporate developer and was later employed as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm, where he continues to work today.
Ricketson said he “found great people” at BC who had similar interests to him, but also pushed him to try new things. In his sophomore year, he competed in the BC Venture Competition, where he placed third as a sophomore and first as a senior.
Ricketson now works as a software engineer at Apple TV.
“I could not have gotten where I am today without trying new things,” Ricketson said.
Miguel Galvez, BC ’12, biology major and the co-founder and CEO of NBD Nanotechnologies was the fourth panelist. Coming into BC, he imagined he would be a scientist.
His roommate, however, sparked his interest in technology startups. He competed in BCVC and decided to start his company while at college.
“I really liked running a business, starting things, and creating things,” he said.
A good entrepreneur is someone who solves a problem, according to Bademosi. Being a good entrepreneur is all about how to tell and show what you can do, according to Bademosi.
The first follower of the person with the initial idea for a startup can be even more respectable than the founder, because that first follower realizes that the idea is worthwhile and helps the founder bring it to fruition, Ricketson said, emphasizing that there is no need to follow the entrepreneurial stereotype to be part of a startup.
The panelists agreed that it is difficult to teach someone how to be an entrepreneur. Ricketson noted that looking at case studies of previous failed startups is a great way to learn from the mistakes of others. Bademosi thinks a good entrepreneur is someone “driven by curiosity,” he said.
According to the panel, startup environments give opportunities for growth without the possibility of getting lost in the shuffle of a big corporation. According to Galvez, working in a small team makes it easier to get exposed to many fields, including developing and marketing.
“Big opportunities present themselves on a small team,” Galvez said.